College of St Elizabeth alumnae and friends pledge support for Maasai girls

An Emusoi book signing event was held by City of Silver author Pat King and David Clark in their New York apartment on Friday December 4th.

Pat King became a champion of the Emusoi girls when she discovered that both she and Emusoi Centre director, Sister Mary Vertucci, are alumnae of the College of St Elizabeth, Morristown, New Jersey. “Women who studied at St Elizabeth’s stick together,” Pat told me. “The friends I made at college are friends for life.”

Among the 30 guests at the event was Sister Jacqueline Burns SC, President Emerita of the college (1981-97). Sister Jacqui, herself widely respected for her intellect and devotion to the poor, paid tribute to the work done by Sister Mary to transform the lives of hundreds of young Maasai women through education. “I am so proud that Sister Mary is putting into practice the ethos of service that lies at the heart St Elizabeth’s mission,” she said.

Other guests bought generous numbers of Emusoi copies. They pledged support for Sister Mary’s work and undertook to spread the word about an inspirational place in the heart of Maasailand where the crucial role played by women’s education in the fight against world poverty is not just a theory, but a reality.

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December 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm 3 comments

Thanksgiving at the Dominican Academy, New York

Students at the Dominican Academy, New York, gave thanks last week for all the opportunities made possible through their high school education.

They invited me to speak at a Thanksgiving Assembly on their campus in East 68th Street because they had heard about Emusoi and wanted to learn more about the challenges facing young Maasai women in their struggle to get a secondary education.

The students listened to the stories of some of the Maasai girls featured in the book and watched a short movie about the work of the Emusoi Centre that was made last year by a young British film director, Kat Hodgkinson. The young women were clearly very moved by the differences they perceived when they compared their own school experiences with those of their contemporaries in Maasailand.

“How can we help?” asked one senior.

“Tell people about the book!” I urged. “There are 100 of you in this assembly hall. If you each go home and tell 10 people, that’s 1,000 more who have heard the voices of these courageous Maasai girls. If each of them tells 10 people, that makes 10,000 more. And amongst all those people, surely there will be some who are prepared to do more than listen? Surely they will also take action? Like Sister Mary did at Emusoi?”

Dominican Academy religion teacher, Ms Katherine Leo wrote afterwards: “(the students) were asking today about purchasing the books etc…..you encouraged them not only to perform acts of charity by donating money, but also encouraged them to work for justice by spreading the word about Emusoi…”

Student Sara Granda commented: “Thank you so much for coming to Dominican Academy to speak about the Massai girls. I really appreciated you coming, I think I really learned a lot about the girls. I would love to learn more about them. I am planning on ordering your Maasai book. I would like to thank you and hope to meet you again sometime.”

December 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

British International School in New York meets Dogodogo

I was given a warm welcome by Year 6 at the British International School in New York, and their class teacher, Ms Elizabeth Bowie, on November 23rd. The students read the stories of the Dogodogo boys, watched a DVD about the centre, and asked some searching questions about what life is really like for their contemporaries in Africa who are denied even the most basic children’s rights.

Worlds apart? Not any more! Year 6 students at the British International School, New York, reached out to the Dogodogo boys after reading their stories. (Photo by Ms Bowie.)

The children came up with some creative ways to help raise the profile of street children everywhere, promote the book and support the work of the centre. One of them suggested writing a letter to President Obama, enclosing a copy of Dogodogo for his two daughters. 

The positive (and practical) response to the book from BISNY students and their teacher, filled me with hope.

“I hope I can change the world like you have done with the Dogodogo boys.” Piers

 “This book was really inspiring and it made me want to help the Dogodogo boys even more.” Arielle

 “I would fly to Africa just to see you because I would like to see how the boys lives are.” Jacob

 “To me, Dogodogo is another word for hope.” Luccas

 “I really liked the book. It’s a very good book. I hope the Dogodogo boys have a good life.” Faisal

 “All of you have inspired me to do more things to help and I am thinking of ways to spread the word about you and your life stories.” Sophie

 “I hope that I not only can help Dogodogo children but also the whole world.” Sam

 “It was great to read and learn about such inspiring lives. You are all so brave and I hope more people in the world can understand about what obstacles so many children in the world are faced with and help you overcome them.” Ms Bowie

 Perhaps a brighter future lies in store for the Dogodogo boys – and for other street children – after all.

November 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm 1 comment

More pictures from the London launch of Emusoi

Naha gives necklace to Minister

Naha presents a traditional Maasai bead necklace to DfID Minister of State, Gareth Thomas, while Esupat looks on.

Naha, Esupat, strawberries

Naha and Esupat tried many new kinds of food, including strawberries, during their visit to London. But they still prefer their traditional diet of beef and milk.

Esupat, Mell, Naha

Comic actor Mell Giedroyc was among the guests at the book launch.

Danny, Liz F, Lainy

More distinguished guests! Left to right, Danny Mwasandube of the Tanzania Development Trust, Mrs Liz Fennell of the Britain Tanzania Society, and Ms Lainy Malkani, Producer BBC Radio London.

Esupat, Sr Jean, Mwanaidi, Naha

"Girl Power": left to right, Esupat, Sr Jean Pruitt, founder of the Dogodogo Centre for Street Children Trust, HE Mwanaidi Maajar, Tanzanian High Commissioner to the UK, Naha.

Photos by Dorothee Giedroyc

November 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Dogodogo links literacy and citizenship for EAL students

IB Web Platform

A number of teachers have asked me to post the lesson plans for the unit of work I designed for use alongside Dogodogo with a class of Grade 10 EAL students at the International School of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam. (These have been available for some time on the IB Community Theme web platform: www.ibo.org, click on community theme for teachers.) 

The lessons address crucial development issues such as children’s rights, world poverty and the effects of HIV/Aids on family life, alongside step-by-step strategies for strengthening literacy skills at word, sentence and text level.

November 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

Emusoi girls come to UK to launch book

In October 2009, two Maasai girls from Emusoi, Naha and Esupat, braved their first ever journey by aeroplane to travel to the UK for the launch of their book, Emusoi. The book launch, which took place at Macmillan HQ on October 7th, was attended by DfiD Minister of State, Gareth Thomas.

Naha & Esupat

Naha (24), left, now in her second year at Arusha Business College studying banking and accountancy, intends to use her qualifications to help women in her village benefit from Tanzania’s growing tourist industry by creating their own businesses selling Maasai jewellery and handcrafts. Esupat (15), right, who ran away from home last year rather than face enforced marriage to a total stranger the same age as her father, wants to be a lawyer so that she can stand up for her people’s rights. (Photo by Simon Davis, Department for International Development, DfID. To find out more : www.dfid.gov.uk )
Maasai school visit

(Photo by Enfield Advertiser)

On Friday October 9th, the two girls received a warm welcome at St Ignatius’ College, Enfield, where they told students about their book and answered questions about the challenges facing them in Africa. They attended Mass in the school chapel, sampled some traditional fish, chips and baked beans in the canteen, and gave an interview on IC, the school radio station.

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Naha and Esupat, from Tanzania, sixth-formers Joe Hollingshead, Sophie Gorne and Rebecca Merritt, and Stanley Bijura who is from Tanzania at Bartholomew School (Photo by Witney Gazette)

Naha & Esupat with Sarah Brown

Naha and Esupat were invited to tea at No 10 Downing Street by Mrs Sarah Brown. They also visited the home of Mrs Cherie Blair and made a tour of Oxford University. (Photo by Flickr 10 Downing Street)

Latest e-mail from Sr Mary at Emusoi, sent 6th October 2009 “Thousands of young women are coming to the gates of Emusoi every day. I cannot trust myself to go and meet them because I find it impossible to turn anyone away. These girls are so vulnerable. Their mothers beg us to keep them in a safe place. But we look after 700 girls already. We have nowhere to put any more. We have no money to feed them, let alone pay their school fees. It is so hard.”

The two girls also gave a number of press interviews.

October 30, 2009 at 9:36 am 1 comment

Dogodogo boys visit David Blunkett and UK

In March 2009, David Blunkett MP collaborated with Lord Amir Bhatia, British Airways and Best Western Hotels to arrange a 5-day visit to the UK for two of the Dogodogo boys, Aloys, 18, and Dickson, 19.

Dogodogo boys No10

"We hope that the visit will enrich the global citizenship curriculum in UK schools by encouraging discussion amongst students of both nationalities of important issues such as poverty and children’s rights. It will raise awareness of the problems faced by street children in Tanzania, and promote closer links between schools and youth centres in the two countries.” David Blunkett MP (Photo by Ben Hamilton)

IMG_5110

For Aloys’ account of the visit, including tea with Cherie Blair, go to http://www.bwbct.org News Page, Tanzanian street children. (Photo by Ben Hamilton)

October 30, 2009 at 9:06 am Leave a comment

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